Hastings Women’s Law Journal


Jessica Knouse


The institution of marriage has long been an engine of the subordination of women, the normalization of relationships and the repression of individual desires. This Article suggests that the time has come to dismantle the institution and end its deleterious impact upon society. The Article begins by defining "sex" and "sex stereotypes" and by examining, from various feminist perspectives, the influence of sex stereotypes upon individual identity creation. The Article proceeds to review the historical development of marriage, illustrating that marriage inevitably reinscribes sex stereotypes, and arguing that the institution and the stereotypes are presently so intertwined that disaggregation is impossible. The Article then sets forth two proposals by which the reinscription of sex stereotypes, through marriage might be interrupted: first, the expansion of marriage and, second, the abolition of marriage. The Article ultimately concludes that the legal institution of marriage should be abolished and replaced by a new, more inclusive regime, which is entirely free of the subordinating, normalizing, and repressive sex stereotypes with which the existing institution has become irrevocably associated.